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In a piece for Fast Company, Ben Fry, a Fathom principal, said he started the project after trying to design a Pennsylvania map of roads. “Seeing the Appalachian mountains emerge in the eastern half of the state, he later made a version that included the lower 48 states,” says Terrance Fradet, a designer at Fathom. “The geographic features that emerged from just showing streets were so striking.”

In Arizona, for example, roads crosshatch almost the entire landscape, and block out the cities of Phoenix and Tucson, at least until you get to the Grand Canyon. Then there is nothing.

Even a state like Vermont, with a low population and lots of rural areas, is similarly covered with roadways, except for the tell-tale streak of white that goes down the center of the state where the Green Mountains take over and prevent all but the most adventurous from heading to the tops.

Related: Amazing Map Shows Every Tree in the United States

A state like Texas is almost completely defined by it’s roadways — the rest of the state almost indistinguishable from areas of larger cities, whereas Alaska is almost impossible to find. Only a small portion of Alaska is reachable by road, including Fairbanks and Anchorage, where most of the population resides. But even these cities barely make a dent when compared to the pavement that covers California or Utah.

In Louisiana, where the coast is disappearing fast, it’s easy to see the places that are unreachable — a portion likely to increase as it starts to sink further and further underwater.

Fathom

Via Fast Company

Photos by Fathom